The Chamber has long been an advocate for business in the San Diego region, taking up issues and causes for the benefit of our members and for the creation of jobs and a stronger economy. A selection of past issues is housed here in our Archives section.

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2015 Public Policy Review PDF

Linkage Fees

In 1990, the San Diego City Council created a Commercial Housing Impact Fee, commonly referred to as a “linkage fee.” The fee is charged to new commercial-industrial construction on a per square foot basis and is used to subsidize private affordable housing units throughout the City. In theory, the fee is levied to cover the perceived gap between income levels from certain jobs created in commercial-industrial buildings and the cost of housing in San Diego. The fee was cut in half in 1996 to spur economic development and remains at that level today.

In 2011, the San Diego Housing Commission proposed to double the fee, but it was defeated by the City Council. An Affordable Housing Task Force identified a number of alternative funding sources and regulatory reforms designed to bring down the cost of constructing affordable housing, yet the Housing Commission has failed to act on nearly all of those funding alternative and regulatory reforms.

In 2013, the San Diego Housing Commission again proposed a 1.5 percent fee on non-residential development in order to fund the Housing Commission’s affordable housing programs. This represents a 500-1000 percent increase depending on the development type. According to the Jobs-Housing Nexus Study, released by the Housing Commission on August 9, 2013, new hotels, office, retail, and other facilities increases the demand for more affordable housing. Even the Independent Budget Analyst called the fee “excessive” and warned that it would result in hikes of 377 percent for developers of industrial and manufacturing projects and more than 744 percent for those wanting to build warehouse or storage facilities.

On November 2, 2013, the controversial proposal was tentatively passed by the City Council. The Council modified some language in the Commission’s proposal, it will hold two additional votes this year. The JOBs Coalition – formed in 2011 – has reconvened and now includes more than 50 organizations in opposition of the fee. The Coalition is currently weighing all options to oppose the linkage fee.

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Barrio Logan Community Plan Update

The Protect Our Jobs Coalition submitted more than 53,000 petitions signed by registered voters to the City Clerk, sending a strong message that there is significant support for over-turning the Barrio Logan Community Plan approved by the San Diego City Council by a narrow 5-4 vote. The City Clerk now has 30 days to validate the signatures. If the Clerk finds that the Coalition has submitted at least 33,792 valid signatures, the Council will be faced with one of two decisions: 1) rescind their September 17 decision, allowing them to revisit the Plan at a later date; or 2) place the item on a future ballot, which puts the fate of the Plan in the hands of all City voters. If voters support the referendum, the City would not be able to salvage any work done on the Plan, which cost taxpayers more than $3 million.

The Coalition believes the approved community plan will make it more difficult and costly for shipyard suppliers to do business in Barrio Logan and will increase the chances that San Diego will lose military installations during the next round of BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure). The Chamber recognizes the enormous economic impact of the maritime industry in San Diego and has a long standing position of supporting the preservation of valuable industrial and commercial land. As such, the Chamber strongly opposed the adopted community plan and supports the referendum efforts.

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Housing Action Plan

The City of San Diego and regional economy must have an adequate supply of housing to be competitive. In the absence of redevelopment, the City must implement additional reforms to meet its present and future needs. In the absence of redevelopment, the City must implement more robust reforms.

The Chamber’s Housing Action Plan (CHAP), which is revised annually, was created in response to the City Council’s request in 2005. The CHAP’s recommendations focus on increasing production of housing by reducing costs and permit processing times, while reducing and eliminating duplicative and burdensom regulations for all housing types. The Chamber’s Board of Directors approved the most recent version in September 2015.

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Climate Mitigation and Adaptation Plan

AB 32, Global Warming Solutions Act, requires California to reduce its Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions by 12 percent below current levels by 2020, and 80% below the 1990 threshold by 2050. San Diego’s Climate Mitigation and Adaptation Plan (CMAP) is a companion document to the General Plan Update to help achieve the City’s AB 32 objectives.

The Chamber formed a GHG/Environmental Task Force to re-evaluate the CMAP report and respond to the Mayor and City Council with its concerns and recommendations.

The Chamber supported the following:

  • CMAP recommendations should fit seamlessly with existing state and federal requirements.
  • CMAP program recommendations should be voluntary and incentive based. Requirements exceeding existing state and federal requirements must be voluntary or incentive based.
  • Cost-benefit analysis must be a part of any recommendation.
  • Recommendations should include a “non-exempt” provision for the City.
  • Recommendations should be limited to those that are proactive in nature.

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Convention Center Expansion

The San Diego Convention Center generates significant economic benefits to the greater San Diego region by hosting international and national conventions and trade shows in a world-class facility. In January 2009, Mayor Sanders formed the Mayor’s Citizen Task Force on the Convention Center Project to evaluate and recommend the necessary steps required to ensure San Diego’s ability to retain and enhance its current market position in the convention and meeting industry. Based on the findings of the Convention Center Project, the economic benefits of an expanded facility are significant and will enable San Diego to better compete for more conventions and trade shows. Since opening in 1989, the Convention Center has contributed $20.9 billion to the regional economy and more than $400 million in tax revenue, making it one of San Diego’s most important economic engines. The Chamber is supportive of expanding the existing Convention Center downtown.

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